Vouchers for the self-employed in the spotlight

Here at CVS, we are strongly backing a national campaign that is calling for childcare vouchers to be made available for the self-employed.

The campaign is being spearheaded by CVPA (Childcare Voucher Providers Association), along with the National Day Nurseries Association, Daycare Trust and many others.

This week the campaign picked up even more momentum after appearing in the national press.

In an article featured in the Daily Telegraph, the potential benefits of extending the vouchers scheme to the self-employed were explained.

Under the current system, only employed parents can benefit. However, with the Government aiming for 2012 to be the ‘year of enterprise’, backers of the campaign believe more should be done to encourage entrepreneurship by providing mothers and fathers who start their own business with childcare support.

According to the Telegraph: ‘Many business and childcare organisations believe that the lack of childcare support is a major barrier to women starting up their own business.’

You can read the full article here:

Daily Telegraph: Call to give self-employed access to childcare vouchers

This issue is one we feel very passionate about at CVS and we are proud, as a founding member of the CVPA, to be an instrumental part of the campaign for vouchers to be accessible to the self-employed. It’s vitally important to encourage further help and financial support to be provided for working parents, and we will continue to lobby the Government on initiatives which will benefit them, especially in the current economic climate.

Do you use your childcare vouchers for summer fun?

With the school holidays soon to begin in Scotland and in the rest of the UK shortly after, we thought we would quiz parents on how you are planning to make the most of childcare voucher savings during the summer break.

Thank you so much to everyone who took part in the poll, which we ran on our Facebook page. It made for interesting reading…

  • 39% of those who voted said you would be putting your childcare vouchers towards the cost of traditional childcare, such as nursery and childminders

  • While 18% of you plan to use your vouchers for local holiday clubs

  • Just 6% will be using childcare vouchers for residential adventure holidays, such as PGL or King Camps

  • And only 4% of you plan to use your vouchers for special activity sessions, such as Mad Science

But the main statistic that got us thinking is that 33% of you answered that you didn’t realise you could use vouchers outside of ‘normal’, more traditional childcare.

Childcare vouchers uses

It is a commonly held myth that childcare vouchers can only be used for very young children and for nursery care. But the good news is that they can actually be used for a wide range of registered childcare - and for children up to the age of 16 years old!* Karen, who has a one year old daughter, plans to continue using vouchers after her daughter has left nursery: “I use childcare vouchers to pay my nursery and wasn’t aware of all the other types of childcare I could use them for. When my daughter gets older I’ll definitely continue using them wherever I can.”

Childcare vouchers are incredibly versatile, but many parents do not realise you can use them towards the cost of a range of activities for the kids, including holiday camps, activity clubs and even some theatre and music lessons.

Vouchers can even be used for popular adventure holidays run by regional and national organisations, such as PGL and Camp Beaumont! We spoke to Jill who has an 11 year old daughter, who told us she carries on using her vouchers over the summer holidays: “I use my childcare vouchers to pay for my daughter's PGL summer camp, so I don't need to take as much annual leave and I can still afford to take her on other day trips like to the safari park, as she loves seeing the animals."

So to help and inspire you, we have created a special Holiday Activities page on Facebook http://cpu.vg/XGc1X where you’ll find an interactive map and a list of organisations that operate activities during the summer months.

And our top tip - if you’re starting to plan in some summer activities, then make sure you ask if vouchers are accepted, so you can start making the most of the savings.

Remember you will find lots more information about childcare vouchers on our website www.computersharevoucherservices.com, and if you have any questions you can always send us an email to parent@computershare.co.uk or give the team a call on 0845 002 1111 (8am-8pm, Monday to Friday).

*1st September following 15th birthday or 1st September following 16th birthday for children who are registered disabled.

Government makes moves to tackle childcare costs

Good news for parents - more help could soon be on the way for families to help them manage the spiralling cost of childcare.

Prime Minister David Cameron has recently announced that he intends to set up a new commission that will focus on childcare and work with parents and providers to try and find ways to make childcare more affordable.

As well as looking at ways to reduce the cost of childcare, the commission will look for inspiration from international childcare models and also consider ways to increase places and “wrap-around care” for children over-five, during holidays and out-of-school hours.

The Daycare Trust has revealed in its annual ‘Childcare costs survey 2012’ that working parents are now paying, on average, £15,000 per year for childcare - more than a third of their income - and with little financial help.

According to the Trust, the high cost of childcare is forcing many parents to consider sacrificing work in order to care for their children, whilst living off national benefits.

Here at CVS we think the introduction of the commission is a very positive step by the Government. There is an obvious need to balance the need for quality childcare with affordability and it will be interesting to see what conclusions the commission arrives at.

Times are very tough for many UK families, especially in the current climate and it’s great that the Government is starting to address some of these issues.

We have long been campaigning for addition support to be made available for working parents, such as by increasing the tax-free limits on childcare vouchers in line with increasing childcare costs or by making the vouchers scheme available to the self-employed, so they too can benefit from the savings.

We hope that these measures may now be seriously considered, as they could make a huge difference for so many parents.

If you’re a parent or childcare provider and would like more information about childcare vouchers, then you can find more details on our website www.computersharevoucherservices.com or on our interactive Facebook page www.facebook.com/computersharevoucherservices.

Raising money for The Honeypot Charity

Last week, nine hundred CVS employees dusted off their football boots and took to the Astroturf to participate in The Honeypot Charity’s 5 a side football tournament, at Powerleague Wembley.

CVS joined 10 other teams in the shadow of Wembley stadium to compete for the Honeypot Trophy. Despite our team battling hard, we came away with three draws and two losses. Unfortunately this wasn’t enough to get through to the final, but the team were proud to have helped raise money for such a good cause.

Overall the day raised a fabulous £3,500 for Honeypot, and we are honoured to have played a part in it.

This money will go directly towards providing respite breaks to young carers and vulnerable children.  We are continually in awe of the work Honeypot do to try and improve the lives of the children they look after, and you can find out more about how they help by visiting their website.

Families seek out charity shop treasures

It appears thrifty parents may be saving their pennies by heading to the local charity shop in search of those hidden treasures.

In an interesting article appearing in the Daily Telegraph it’s been revealed that with budgets squeezed for many, a quarter of families may now be turning to charity shops for items such as clothing and toys.

The story centres on a recent survey of parents, which has shown one in five are buying birthday gifts for other children from charity, while nearly a quarter plan to buy their Christmas gifts from a charity shop this year.

While it may not be every family’s cup of tea, giving a new home to a pre-loved or unwanted item can be an affordable way to find a bargain, while at the same time giving money to a good cause.

As the cost of living continues to rise, putting increasing pressure on family budgets, cutting costs in innovative ways such as this will no doubt remain a top priority for many parents.

Indeed, we hear from parents who are being affected by escalating costs and for whom the savings they receive through their childcare vouchers are vital.

Whether putting them towards the cost of nursery care, breakfast and after school clubs, au pairs or any other kind of registered childcare, the savings can prove essential for families.

We think this story may hit a nerve with many parents and so we’d love to hear your thoughts on it. If you have any other great cost-saving tips or ideas of your own, then we’d also love to hear them.

You can also check you’re getting the most from your childcare vouchers, the savings they can bring and more details about what they can be used for on our website.